Seven theatres removed from Theatres at Risk Register 2019
Seven theatres have been removed from the 2019 Theatres at Risk Register, for both positive and negative reasons.
Returning to live performance use
Alexandra Palace Theatre
Alexandra Palace Theatre officially reopened to the public on 1 December 2018 following a six-year renovation project. The theatre is currently showing a mix of one off events, comedy nights, music and theatre productions. The auditorium can also support flat floor events such as exhibitions, conferencing etc.
Theatres Trust has supported the works throughout, from early stage advice on the viability study through to supporting Alexandra Palace’s fundraising campaign with various letters of support.
Why was it at risk?
It had not been an active theatre for more than 80 years. When it was first added to the Theatre Buildings at Risk Register in 2006, the building fabric was deteriorating and it was unsafe to use. Although significant improvement works had taken place, it remained on the register until this year because of the scale of the fundraising needed.
The Cryer in the London Borough of Sutton will be reopened as a community centre with some theatre performance with the contract awarded to local company CryerArts Ltd. Theatres Trust supported this scheme as being the best fit for the space and the needs of its local community.
We made the case to the council about the substantial benefits the theatre could bring and also offered advice regarding theatre operation and the necessity of offering the right lease terms to allow for sustainable business operation.
Why was it at risk?
In 2014 the London Borough of Sutton announced plans to close both the Secombe and Charles Cryer Studio theatres. The theatres were offered to community groups, individuals and companies interested in taking over the venues and a bid from Sutton Theatres was accepted. However, the new operator went into administration in August 2016 and both theatres were again closed, leaving Sutton as the only London borough without a theatre.
Buildings no longer at risk
While these theatres have not returned to live performance use yet, there is no longer an immediate threat to the buildings and they are being used and maintained in ways that mean they could become theatres again one day.
Hulme Playhouse has both a new freeholder and a new leaseholder. The leasee is NIAMOS, a cooperative who are running an exhibition, arts, and performance space with a micro bakery, music studios, a kitchen and a holistic well-being space within the building. There is an overall ambition to restore the theatre.
Why was it at risk?
The previous leasees were struggling maintaining the building, although trying hard to carry out necessary repair works. The building has also suffered due to the dilapidated state of the adjoining Hulme Hippodrome, a building that remains on the Theatres at Risk register. We will continue to monitor the situation at the Playhouse and liaise with the new leasees and Council to ensure that the condition of the Playhouse does not worsen.
Llandudno Grand has been operating as a nightclub in its most recent history and returned to that use in 2017. The building remained on the register in 2018 due to concerns about the condition of the building and the viability of the organisation, however, the situation appears to have stabilised.
Why was it at risk?
The building had severe cracking and there were ongoing concerns regarding roof repairs. If this necessary maintenance and repair work had not carried been out to the required standard, it could have impacted the building fabric including the theatre’s original stage machinery and decorative plasterwork. The new owners are continuing to carry out their duty to maintain the building and are in discussions with the Council to open up the upper levels of the theatre, stripping out redundant mechanical and electrical equipment and revealing the decorative plasterwork of the ceiling and upper balconies for the first time in many years.
Change in community demand
The Secombe Theatre
The Secombe Theatre and The Cryer were intrinsically linked – they were both on the list as Sutton was a borough without a performance venue. But the good news for The Cryer unfortunately means that it is even harder now to make the case for the Secombe. Furthermore, the Sutton Town Centre Masterplan calls for a new performance and arts centre on a different site.
Theatres Trust will work to make sure that this is an appropriate replacement for the Secombe.
Workington Opera House
Workington Opera House has been removed from the Theatres at Risk Register as there is no longer community support for this theatre nor, we believe, currently a viable case for it as a performance space as there are other venues in Workington.
There had been plans on the site for a new development of shops and homes, which the Theatres Trust strong objected to. Although these plans have expired, the owners would not lease the building to the local campaign group and that has now disbanded. The building is now owned by PGC 365 Limited, believed to be a demolition company.
Despite being removed from the register, the building remains important to us. We will retain a watching brief on this building and offer support to any new community group / organisation that may come forward with plans for a viable reuse for the Opera House that will protect the historic significance of the building.
The Coronet Theatre in Elephant and Castle is part of a site marked for redevelopment for housing, retail and leisure use, with the plans including demolition of the Coronet. Planning approval has now been granted despite Theatres Trust lobbying both the London Borough of Southwark and the Mayor of London.
The proposals do earmark a cultural venue on the UAL site opposite, however, this is both considerably smaller than the Coronet and will not be built until many years after the existing theatre has been demolished. Theatres Trust does not consider that this forms a suitable replacement and will continue to make the case for a similar large-scale replacement in Southwark.
Cover image: Alexandra Palace Theatre, Lloyd Winters